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Putting Old Fashioned Vintage Look Christmas Lights on Your Tree

Published by Adriane Haldi

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If you want to buy some of the older painted bulbs that come in the shapes of houses, Santas, angels, fruits and candles, you must know the size of your lights. Today’s strings of large indoor colored lights may not fit the older bulbs.

The Difference Between C6 and C7 Indoor Colored Christmas Lights: C6 Lights

While it’s fun to pick up old lights with cute shapes and imagine how they’d look on your tree, most older lights sold in antique shops won’t fit the newer strings of Christmas lights. The first electric lights were C6 lights; the “C” category defines their size. If you look at the screw-in base of the light, you see it’s somewhat narrower than current Christmas tree lights. Many of the decorative lights shaped like different objects are C6 lights.

While these are fun to collect and display in a glass jar, you probably can’t use them on your tree and might not want to even if you have an old C6 string of lights around. According to Family Christmas Online, C6 lights got very hot and could be a fire hazard; so, of course, could the old electric cord they attach to. And when one light burns out an old electric strand, none of the lights will light. Most of these lights burned out long ago, so they’re suitable mostly for collecting.


C7 Lights: The Modern Way to Create an Old Fashioned Christmas Tree

C7 lights are still sold today; some places even make replicas of the older shapes. Some bulbs are frosted to look older. Bubblers, which look like long candles filled with liquid that “bubbles”, are also made to fit C7 strings. Each light today works independently, so one blown bulb doesn’t mean replacing the entire string. Old C7 bulbs that still work can get hotter than today’s bulbs, so make sure to use the clip attached to each bulb to position the bulb away from the tree’s branches.

Using C9 Lights for Outdoor Display Only

C9 lights are for outdoor use, not for use of your Christmas tree. They have a ceramic finish, like older C7 lights, which get hotter than indoor lights, Family Christmas Online explains.

LED Lights for Your Christmas Tree

  • LED lights are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, but they have some advantages over incandescent lights:
  • They stay cooler than incandescent bulbs
  • They last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs
  • They don’t break as easily as incandescent bulbs.
  • They’re more energy efficient.
  • They have brighter colors than incandescent bulbs. You might consider this a disadvantage if you want a softer look.

Choosing the right lights for your lifestyle and tree

When choosing the right lights for your Christmas tree, always put safety first, even if you really want an old-fashioned look. Old lights caused many fires. Even if you have old strings that use C6 lights, they’re not worth the danger of a fire. While LED lights are safest, you may not like the brighter look. C7s are fine to use as long as you don’t string more than 50 bulbs total together, ChristmasLights.com recommends.

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